Long before becoming Birmingham’s premier shopping and lifestyle destination, the Mailbox was the former Royal Mail sorting office and a place where many a Christmas holiday of mine was spent sorting envelopes and parcels for a bit of extra cash. As a Mail sorting office it was the largest in the UK and even had a 200m tunnel connecting it to New Street station so that mail could be trolleyed direct to the sorting room. I wonder what the tunnel is used for today?
The redevelopment - Mailbox Birmingham - opened in 2000 and is now the UK’s largest mixed-use building and home to Malmaison and AC Hotels, the BBC Midlands headquarters, luxury retailers including Harvey Nichols, and a range of restaurants, bars and apartments.
To the rear of the Mailbox you find Gas Street basin, a fantastic part of Birmigham’s canal heritage which has been completely rejuvenated and comprises some wonderful waterside eateries and bars. Some say that the Mailbox’s waterside location has become Birmingham’s most sophisticated dining quarter.
In 2010 the Mailbox’s upper levels were transformed with work being completed in 2015. The transformation required significant alterations to the interior of the existing building, with the removal of large parts of the existing structure to create a new 70m long “Urban Room,” which is designed to function as an internal public space, capable of hosting various events, exhibitions and other social activities – a new type of social meeting place, which also provides a focus for the retail and office areas.
Another jewel addition to Birmingham’s ever-changing skyline, The Cube was completed in 2010 as the final part of the Mailbox development. It’s home to a vibrant mix of restaurants and bars, a boutique hotel, luxury spa and gym, exclusive apartments and prime office space.
Some say that the building encompasses the very essence of Birmingham. It’s exterior cladding reflects the heavy industries of Birmingham, and the geometric glass work on the inside pays homage to Birmingham’s Jewellery making tradition.
The most exciting feature of this 25 storey building in our opinion is the car park – The Cube is home to the UK’s largest automated car park - imagine a robot picking up your car, rotating it 180 degrees and shifting it skywards into its’ designated parking bay high up in the corner of the building. Very Blade Runner #1-esque!
One of the most recent additions to Birmingham's architectural skyline is Grand Central Birmingham. The 500,000 sq ft centre took five years to build and cost £150 million.
Part of the Bullring Estate, Grand Central is Birmingham’s newest prime shopping centre, located above New Street Station and next to the Bullring. You never need get wet in the rain as the two are connected.
The stainless steel façade encasing the whole building offers a striking focal point in the heart of the city. Now a prominent addition to our skyline, it mirrors the architecture, new and old, of the surrounding buildings.
Inside, the stunning new roof floods natural light into the shopping centre, anchored by the John Lewis department store, one of the largest outside of London.
Some say that the BT tower is the tallest building in Birmingham but unfortunately, it isn’t. It’s not classed as a building but rather a tower (not a tower block) – it’s all in the name.
10 Holloway Circus aka Holloway Circus Tower (not to be confused with the BT tower which is a different type of tower, all very confusing) is (currently) the tallest building in Brum standing at about 130 m in height.
Will it continue to be the tallest? Let’s wait and see…
Founder and Managing Director of Warm Welcome Homestays - Birmingham born and bred, English Language Teacher and long track-record of working with students, homestay hosts and language schools in the UK and overseas, including living and working in Asia for a number of years.